7 steps for a successful career change

In this week’s Writer’s Room – a series of blogs and tutorials written by our community members – Bolajoko Adah delves into her own experiences and explores the seven steps you should follow to guarantee a successful career change!

When it comes to careers, I think some people are lucky to have found their career love matches (if there is even such a thing!), discovering perfect careers right out of high school, during college or after college. For some, their careers found them and it was a match made in Meta. However, there are a few – scratch that actually – a vast majority who never fit quite right into a particular career. Some started off on one path but things didn’t turn out as planned, others were simply unfortunate with meeting negative employers, resulting in them abandoning their budding dreams and aspirations. 

Was it something they did wrong? Did they make bad decisions or was it the career gods who dealt them the wrong hand? Did Career Cupid run out of arrows?

Well, it really doesn’t matter in reality as long as you’re willing to put in the work!

I thought I had found the perfect career… but after almost a decade as an accountant, I began to have this feeling of wanting ‘more’. Prior to this, I’d become uncomfortable with a 9-5 work routine and the toxic culture in some of the start-ups I’d worked with. I wasn’t spending enough time with my family and I began to feel like I was stuck in a box. General ledgers, financial reports, spreadsheets or getting a chartered qualification didn’t seem fulfilling or exciting anymore. Working in management roles over the years as a part of the decision-making processes across different industries, I was intrigued with the processes involved before a sale is made or a project is termed successful, or before “profit” is recorded and some companies barely break even. I wanted more fulfillment, more joy, more time and definitely more money. I had worked with two IT related companies and I saw this as a sign.

I successfully transitioned from an accounting career into project management/product ownership and I’m so excited to share my journey with you. 

There are a few key steps you need to take to make a successful career change but l will limit them to the 7 essentials – which open 7 doors which you must walk through: 

  1. The journey begins with the first step or rather the first question – why are you changing careers? Ask yourself some honest questions. What exactly do you want? What do you dislike about your previous and current jobs? Are you good at your job, or are you just looking for an escape route, or the current trend? What don’t you want to do? How does your ultimate career goal affect other areas of your life? I answered all these questions and proceeded with my quest, so ask yourself these questions, and you’re off to a great start. 

  1. Assess your transferable skills: Transferable skills are exactly what they are: they are skills used in every job, no matter the industry. They can be hard skills, soft skills, or a healthy mix of both.  Some of them include communication, critical thinking, multitasking, numeracy skills, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, computer skills etc.  Other transferable skills are known career paths, but they are also skills that can be learnt and used like accounting, administration, management etc. Your background or previous experience should not be a “waste” if you want to change careers into tech if done properly. Technical literacy doesn’t mean learning to code. You should also understand the basics of how technology is relevant to your career/experience today and the numerous applications available. 

  1. Get some Training: It’s important to get the relevant training required for the career path you’ve chosen. I personally recommend starting with free resources and landing an entry level role until you can leverage your transferable skills and grow. There are so many free courses online. When transitioning, learn to keep yourself informed of the latest happenings in your preferred industry. For example, I’d started to hear a lot about Scrum and Agile in relation to the tech industry and that was my first point of call. I took courses on LinkedIn in addition to my transferable skills, approached a tech startup and landed myself a job within 6 months. I completed the Google Project Management Certification and a Product Management Certification on the job. 

  1. Tools : Every work man needs proper tools and you need to prioritize this simultaneously with your training. The purpose of tools is to make our work, our lives, and in fact our very existence easier. There are all kinds of tools depending on their purpose in tech, apart from a working laptop and internet connection. Tools include different software applications like Adobe, Google, and Microsoft. They can also include methodologies, techniques, formulas and concepts, and technologies related to your specific field within the Tech Industry.

  1. Tips: When it comes to tips, they’re one-size fits all. Three tips that helped me when transitioning are:
  • Set small goals regularly
  • Challenge yourself
  • Read. Keep reading, keep learning. You cannot improve beyond the information and knowledge that you have. Keep the switch of curiosity on in your chosen industry. The importance of reading cannot be overemphasized. 

  1. Audit your habits: Habits are simply behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. You might not think of your habits right now but they are EVERYTHING! Where you are now, in your career or life is a product of your habits. For those who plan to transition, in transition or already transitioned, your habits are key to your success. You cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. 

“Good habits are the key to success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. The only difference between those that have succeeded and those that have failed lies in their habits.”— The Greatest Salesman

“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” — Aristotle

  1. Cultivate hobbies: It’s easy to understand how hobbies may benefit your life, but not every hobby will be a good fit for you. Choosing a hobby is all about what interests you outside of your work life. For example, if you work at a desk all day but love being active, you could choose a hobby that allows you to indulge in your active side and vice versa. So, whether you like reading or painting, learning a new language or a new instrument, or journaling or gardening, it’s all about what is most enjoyable to you. With the rise of remote work, the divide between our work and play schedules is becoming less distinct with each day. Having hobbies you’re interested in helps maintain a balance between your professional and personal life, so you’re not spending every waking hour focused on work. Take a break from work and the stress that comes with it. There are many activities and hobbies you can try, so explore and find what interests you.

Changing careers can be a lot of work but it’s worth it eventually when you land your dream job.

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